Rear Window (pp. 219, 222)
FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT. You open up with the perspiring face of James Stewart; you move on to his leg in a cast, and then, on a nearby table, there is the broken camera, a stack of magazines, and, on the wall, there are pictures of racing cars as they topple over on the track. Through that single opening camera movement we have learned where we are, who the principal character is, all about his work, and even how it caused his accident.WOW! So simple and so powerful. Hitchcock began his career as a title card painter in the silent movie business and learned to tell a story with imagery rather than dialogue. Here's another piece of conversation that jumped out at me on page 334.
ALFRED HITCHCOCK. That's simply using cinematic means to relate a story. It's a great deal more interesting than if we had someone asking Stewart, "How did you happen to break your leg?" and Stewart answering, "As I was taking a picture of a motorcar race, a wheel fell off one of the speeding cars and smashed into me." That would be the average scene. To me, one of the cardinal sins for a script-writer, when he runs into some difficulty, is to say, "We can cover that by a line of dialogue." Dialogue should simply be a sound among other sounds, just something that comes out of the mouths of people whose eyes tell the story in visual terms.
F.T. Are you in favor of the teaching of cinema in universities?I've worked on two near-silent movies: An Ancient Pond and Manila Envelopes. I've been thinking about making a fully silent movie since starting this book and having just read this part of the conversation with Hitchcock, I'm thinking it's a really good idea.
A.H. Only on condition that they teach cinema since the era of Méliès and that the students learn how to make silent films, because there is no better form of training. Talking pictures often served merely to introduce the theater into the studios. The danger is that young people, and even adults, all too often believe that one can become a director without knowing how to sketch a decor or how to edit.
Now, to write a script....